‘Indecent haste’ brings ignominy to DCOs, DPOsPakistan
LAHORE: District coordiantion officers (DCOs) and district police officers (DPOs) in Punjab detained people suspected of having links with terrorist activities under the National Action Plan (NAP) to milk praise but they ended up earning embarrassment for themselves and the government as they had to release half of the detainees for a lack of concrete evidence.
The reaction annoyed the chief minister who posted prosecutors to teach law to the “minions of law” on how to detain the people who could create any law and order problem, with cogent reasons.
Sources in the Punjab government told Dawn that the chief minister and other authorities, pursuing the NAP formed in the aftermath of the Peshawar attack on the Army Public School, wondered as to why the detained people were being released in several districts in the province.
A survey was conducted in 16 districts and it transpired that the DCOs concerned had rushed to issue detention orders under the MPO and ATA (Anti-Terrorism Act) of the people enlisted by the DPOs without following the SOPs (standard operating procedures). And the DCOs had to release nearly 150 of the detainees as there was no concrete evidence against them. Some were released by the DCOs themselves and some others on the orders of the home department upon representations made by their (the detainees) relatives.
A number of detainees were released by DCOs on the verbal orders of the Lahore High Court under threat of legal action. Two orders by two DCOs even mentioned this, it was reported.
In some instances, suspected people were detained on the basis of FIRs registered against them many years ago without checking that they had already been acquitted of the charges by courts of law.
According to sources, the districts whose survey was conducted included Lahore, Khanewal, Sargodha, Khushab, Dera Ghazi Khan, Layyah, Jhang, Okara, Bhakkar, Jhelum, Multan, Sahiwal, and Chiniot. They claimed that the situation in other districts was not different.
Now, the orders of the annoyed chief minister include the cabinet committee on law and order should hold video-conferences with DCOs to provide them guidance and technical assistance on how to legally detain the suspected people, the DCOs should seek help from the district prosecutors, and the prosecution department should monitor, assist and coordinate with the DCOs on the issue.
The Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) has been asked to submit detailed reports on detention cases, prepare separate lists of all hardened individual elements and include evidence against them, hate material should be supported by material evidence like declaration from the Muttahida Ulema Board.
Lists of the proscribed organisations should be provided to all the concerned for a ready reference for recommending the name of a person for placement in the list of potentially dangerous people (4th Schedule of the ATA, 1997).
The CTD would make a database of the detention orders and act as the lead agency in cases of 4th Schedule and detention under ATA 1997.
Finally, the prosecutor general has been tasked to visit every divisional headquarters to teach DCOs and DPOs technicalities of detention matters.
Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2015
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